Officially launching its Kickstarter on Tuesday, June 19th, I AM HEXED is a comic book about the political struggles of modern witches. It is written by Kirsten Thompson, whose work includes being a linguist on Kim & Kim Volume 2 and editor on Strange Wit and The Bargain. Joining Kirsten is illustrator and Dwayne McDuffie Award Nominee Christianne Goudreau (Full Circle), letterer and Ringo Award nominee Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios (Red Hood and the Outlaws, Doc Savage), and will feature covers by Eisner-nominated Sara “Little Corvus” Duvall (Deja Brew). Plus, the Kickstarter will feature an I AM HEXED #1 – Kickstarter Exclusive Cover by Meredith McClaren!
PopCultHQ’s Creator Spotlight:
Kirsten Thompson, Christianne Goudreau,
and Taylor Esposito of I AM HEXED
PopCultHQ: Your comic, I AM HEXED, tackles the struggles modern witches have in society and the political landscape. From where did you draw inspiration for this story of witchcraft and politics?
Kirsten Thompson: The inspiration for I AM HEXED came both from my own experiences as a queer woman and witch as well as the current state of politics and civil rights in the world. The idea that there are witches and they’re the people whose ancestors weren’t burned at the stake was key, as well as the fact that the people who claim to be victims of a “witch hunt” are never actual witches, and are usually powerful, privileged and being called out on their behavior.
Christianne Goudreau: I was really inspired by the real life people who formed W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), and the very active group we have here in Portland, Oregon (http://witchpdx.com/). They are people from all walks of life, genders, and sexualities that come together under total anonymity to protest racism, fascism, the patriarchy, and more. I drew on their real life example of fighting for what they believed in using witchcraft.
On my most recent visit to the Portland Art Museum I was able to view a piece related to the group titled W.I.T.C.H 1985, by Ellen Lesperance, that displayed 13 black wool cloaks. In fact, the pin that Charlie wears on her jacket was inspired by one of the patches featured on the cloaks.
PopCultHQ: Taylor, what was it that drew you to this project?
Taylor Esposito: Besides getting to work with my friend, Kirsten, which we have been trying to do forever, the idea of highlighting struggles society faces everyday with this great analogy of witches in government was fun. And when Christianne was brought on board, the art’s energy blew me away.
PopCultHQ: A strong and important facet of your story is that I AM HEXED is an LGBTQ-driven story of empowerment. How integral is the representation of the LGBTQ community to the plight of modern witches?
Kirsten Thompson: I’ve written before about the link between queer identity and culture and witchcraft. There is a powerful intersection between the two, by refusing to accept what has been touted as ‘normal’ for centuries and being open and proud of one’s identity, witches and queer people stand out – and our existence is a form of resistance.
PopCultHQ: Your lead protagonist is Charlotte Helm, a junior staffer considered DC’s Most Wanted Witch. From what I’ve been able to deduce, it appears that she’s caught up in a whole mess of corruption, political intrigue, as well as her own personal and internal conflicts. What can you tell us about the Charlotte character? What motivates her? How much of her own story plays a role in the larger narrative?
Kirsten Thompson: Charlie Helm is someone who grew up in the more formal schools of magic. She went out in the world rather than perhaps sticking to what was comfortable and wanted to make a difference, but still within the bounds of a system. As the events of I AM HEXED unfold, she comes face to face with many of the flaws inherent in both magical and political structures and has to act in ways that are often outside her comfort zone. Although she’s a queer witch, her being queer isn’t the focus of the story – there is romance between Charlie and Jaya – her ex-girlfriend, but there are plenty of other factors that drive them forward and affect their actions.
PopCultHQ: Christianne, as the artist for a unique tale like this, you’re tasked with not only bringing Kirsten’s story to life, but to be a voice for these characters yourself through your artwork to further drive the message home. What, if any, challenges did you face in developing the often ugly side of Washington, the magical components of the story, and in truly capturing the essence of the LGBTQ community?
Christianne Goudreau: I don’t think there’s any one way to capture the essence of the LGBTQIA community. It’s so multi-faceted that we can only ever view a small portion of it from our own perspective and experiences. That in itself presents a challenge. I want to make sure that when people pick up this comic that they see themselves on the page, either casting a spell or having lunch in a diner while two witches chat in the next booth.
PopCultHQ: There’s a bigger picture in play with I AM HEXED that transcends the struggles of modern witches. It’s about the demand for equality. How has the current political climate, along with movements such as #MeToo, played a role in I AM HEXED’s development?
Kirsten Thompson: As I mentioned, the current state of politics was pivotal in I AM HEXED’s development. There is a confluence of discrimination, misogyny and corruption at the highest levels of government which has its roots in certain populations – all of which then strike out at marginalized communities.
Movements like #BLM and #MeToo are calling attention to systemic injustices and the overall attitude of many people that this is ENOUGH, these sort of actions and ‘get out of trouble free’ passes are all part of I AM HEXED – they are things that many people can identify with and they encourage solidarity while prejudice tries to drive people apart.
PopCultHQ: How many issues do you have mapped out for this series?
Kirsten Thompson: I AM HEXED is a completed 4-issue miniseries. I have plenty more ideas for further stories in this universe, so I’d love the chance to write another arc for these ladies very soon.
PopCultHQ: What do you enjoy the most about working on I AM HEXED?
Christianne Goudreau: I really enjoy creating the sigils that the witches use to cast magic. I referenced the theban/witches alphabet for the letters featured in the middle of the sigils, and trying to figure out how to best mold and shape them into one symbol is challenging and fun.
PopCultHQ: In your own words, why is I AM HEXED the comic to back on Kickstarter?
Kirsten Thompson: I AM HEXED is both a magical political thriller, but it’s also a celebration of embracing one’s power and standing up against all obstacles. Plus there’s romance and an accidentally carnivorous plant!
Christianne Goudreau: Queer witches, what’s not to love? With writing by Kirsten, covers by Little Corvus, and the interior art by myself, it’s a fantastic project that needs to be published, especially now.
Taylor Esposito: It’s something different and interesting out there in a sea of the same old, same old. Plus, you have no idea what you’re in store for.
Special thanks goes out to Kirsten, Christianne, and Taylor for making the time to speak with us at PopCultHQ. And a special nod to Jesse Senger and editor James Emmett for their behind-the-scenes work and communication. Be sure to Follow the Movement and get on board with I AM HEXED. Watch for the official campaign launch on Tuesday, June 19th (link below), and definitely follow I AM HEXED and each one of the amazing creators online for more of their work and and the latest updates on this powerful and timely comic book series!
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— Hexed The Comic (@hexed_comic) June 13, 2018
I Am Hexed:
Writer – Kirsten Thompson
Artist – Christianne Goudreau
Letterer – Taylor Esposito